Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Even moderate drinking can cause liver cancer

Researchers have confirmed that even moderate drinking can cause liver cancer. A survey was published by the World Cancer Research Fund covering 8.2m people which established that three drinks a day can cause liver cancer.

The World Cancer Fund recommends men and women should try to limit their alcohol intake and if possible avoid it completely.

The link between alcohol and cancer is undeniable yet it is something of which many people aren’t fully aware. This research from the World Cancer Research Fund helps highlight the important fact that as little as three alcoholic drinks a day can be enough to cause liver cancer.

Like tobacco, alcohol is a group one carcinogen. As many people are not aware of link between alcohol and cancer, the Governments should run campaigns making people aware of the harm alcohol can cause and make health warnings compulsory.

Most people who suffer alcohol-related health problems are not alcoholics or binge drinkers. They are people who have been drinking at or above the recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis over a number of years.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Medical tourism and promoting health of its citizens can bring Indian and Pakistan nearer

According to liver transplant experts at the Shifa International Hospitals, Islamabad, between 700 and 800 Pakistani patients undergo liver transplantation procedures abroad every year, spending about $4 million annually. Meanwhile, more than 500 Pakistanis have received liver transplantations in India so far. 

For example, Nalain was studying at the Myers School in Chakwal, and she was a shining pupil. She topped the Grade 5 exams.

"One day in September 2011, she returned from school with fever,” recalls her father, who worked for the ministry of health in Saudi Arabia. Upon learning of his daughter’s illness, he rushed to Pakistan and took her to a hospital in Islamabad where she was diagnosed with liver disease. The doctors at the Shifa International Hospitals said that she needed liver transplant. “At that time, doctors told me that it would take Rs8.5 million for transplantation, and I could not arrange such a hefty amount,” he says.

Hamid brought the matter to the notice of his employers in Saudi Arabia and the then prince and now King Salman turned out to be a messiah; Hamid took his daughter to Saudi Arabia where Nalain’s mother donated liver tissue to her daughter. Thus the child got her liver transplant.

But seven months later, the problem surfaced again — chronic rejection. A distressed Hamid was told to get his daughter a re-transplantation procedure but there was no one in the family whose blood group matched that of Nalain. And Saudi rules allow only a family member who is not more than 35 years of age to be a donor.

Hamid had to return to Pakistan and arrange substantial funds for a re-transplantation procedure. “I managed to voice my problem from the platform of a TV channel in 2013 and my cry was heard by Amber Riaz Malik, who took responsibility for all the expenses of a re-transplantation,” he tells me.

In Pakistan, liver transplantations are successfully being carried out at the Shifa International Hospitals. But Hamid says that re-transplantation has not been conducted so far in the country.

“I decided to take my daughter to Apollo Hospital which is famous for liver transplantation,” he explains. “Manzoor Hussain, the uncle of my wife, is going with us to donate tissue.” Nalain herself says she wants to become a liver surgeon one day. “I do not want to see people like me, I want to see them healthy,” she asserts.

Hamid is lucky as he is aware about the possibility of organ transplantation. Due to the high prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis and the additional, significant, burden of other chronic adult and childhood liver diseases, it is estimated that more than half a million people will develop end-stage liver disease or hepatocellular cancer. Not all cases are suitable for a transplant but a substantial number are. Successful liver transplant surgery has also been conducted at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Karachi, the Masood Hospital, Lahore, and Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, by foreign surgeons. But the process could not be continued because of the unavailability of local surgeons.

Hepatitis C is the major reason for liver failure requiring liver transplant. Other indications include Hepatitis B, autoimmune liver diseases and congenital liver diseases in children while the total expenditure for one liver transplant surgery is Rs4.5 million.

Government hospitals need to be upgraded to a level where liver transplants can be done safely. They need to hire competent and appropriately trained professionals, and have incentives built into the system where professionals are rewarded. That’s the only way to get liver transplants started in public-sector hospitals.

Ayurvedic herbs can treat liver problem including Fatty liver, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Ascites and Jaundice

Kamalahar is enriched with various herbs proven to be very effective for the treatment of liver problems. It has Tecoma undulata, Phyllanthus urinaria, Embelia ribes, Taraxacum officinale, Nyctanthes arbortritis and Terminalia arjuna.

Tecoma undulata is an herb which is proven to have medicinal property that helps in curing liver diseases especially for the treatment of hepatitis. It is also used in curing urinary disorders, enlargement of spleen, gonorrhea and leucoderma. Seeds are used against abscess.

Phyllanthus urinaria has been used for centuries to promote healthy elimination of gallstones and kidney stones. It is also used for the treatment of liver disease especially hepatitis B. Phyllanthus urinaria primarily contains lignans (e.g. phyllanthine and hypophyllanthine), gallic acid, alkaloids, and bioflavonoids (e.g. quercetin). While it remains unknown as to which of these substances has an antiviral effect, researchers believe that this herb acts primarily on the liver. Other research has revealed other possible benefits like helping to soothe the liver, detoxification of the liver and kidneys, relief from pain and inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, and an ability to inhibit hepatitis B virus DNA replication. It is believed that the possible benefit that phyllanthus urinaria provides in cases of liver damage could be due to the plants anti-viral activity. In Ayurvedic medicine, Phyllanthus has been used for over 2000 years in India for many medicinal uses for those with liver disease including hepatitis.

Embelia ribes is quite beneficial in the treatment of liver ailments especially jaundice and also for strengthening the body. It also helps with gastric problem by either preventing formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of gas. It is also quite useful against tape-worms. It is believed to be useful against skin diseases, bronchitis, urinary discharges, Dyspepsia, hemicrania, worms in wounds etc.

Taraxacum officinale is believed to have a medicinal value, in particular against liver problems. It is also known to be a Diuretic and quite beneficial in the treatment of liver cirrhosis. It is also used in herbal medicines as a mild laxative, for increasing appetite, and for improving digestion. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent and as a folk remedy to treat warts.

Nyctanthes arbortritis is known for its important place in Hindu mythology and this plant has many common names like Indian Night Jasmine. The flower, seeds and leaves of the plant are diuretic, antibacterial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, immunopotential, anti pyretic, antioxidant, anti fungal, anti-bilious, sedative and antifilarial. It is useful in the treatment of many diseases including liver disorder. Its extract has proven by researchers to have significant hepatoprotective activity, which is ability to prevent damage to the liver and also hepatoregenerative. The herb in combination with other herbs is quite beneficial in the treatment of hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcohol liver diseases and other liver disorders. Apart from liver disorder, the herb has been used in the treatment of affections of scalp, rheumatic joint pain, malaria, snakebite, bronchitis, sciatica, chronic fever, rheumatism, internal worm infections, high blood pressure, diabetes, piles and skin diseases. Some people have also used the herb in the treatment of cancer.

Terminalia arjuna is high in co-enzyme Q-10 and helps in the treatment of cirrhosis of liver and reduces blood pressure.The arjuna was introduced into Ayurveda as a treatment for heart disease by Vagbhata. It is traditionally prepared as a milk decoction. In the Ashtānga Hridayam, Vagbhata mentions arjuna in the treatment of wounds, hemorrhages and ulcers, applied topically as a powder.
The combination of these herbs is what makes Kamalahar very effective in the treatment of liver disorders including hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver, ascites and jaundice.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease not commonly discussed

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects 30 percent of the population in developed countries and is a disease with few symptoms but significant effects on your body.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has been seen in adults for decades and was first observed in the 1980s in children. Since nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is so common and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, high triglycerides, high LDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure and fat build up in the liver and around your organs, it is important to minimize its presence.

In the beginning, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible, which is why it is especially important to monitor in children. The disease has been seen in children as young as two, but most commonly, begins in early adolescent boys.

In USA (specifically), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is found in "11.8 percent of Hispanic children, 10.2 percent of Asian children, 8.6 percent of white children and only 1.5 percent of black children," according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Usually, the disease is discovered in a child that is also obese, has insulin resistance or diabetes.

Some possible symptoms are abdominal pain, fatigue, irritability, headaches and difficulty concentrating.

The best way to tackle reversing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in all populations is maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise. There is also research showing that reducing sugar intake, specifically fructose, can decrease fat in the liver in as little as 10 days in children.

One study was done on 40 children who had their sugary foods replaced with healthy complex carbohydrates while their calorie intake remained the same. There was a 20 percent decrease of fat in the liver in only 10 days by avoiding simple sugars (fructose and sucrose, note sucrose = fructose + glucose).

Common dietary sources high in fructose are fruit, fruit juices and sugary drinks such as fruit punch and soda.

Read your ingredients label and look for the word fructose. In most drinks, you will see high fructose corn syrup. Everyone should avoid fructose added into foods on a regular basis. Added fructose should be strictly avoided in any adult or child with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Though fruit contains fructose do not worry, eat an appropriate amount, such as one small piece or one half cup serving per meal. Fruit offers more than fructose; an abundance of vitamins, minerals and fiber and is not nearly as concentrated as in sugary drinks. Also remember that fructose intake does not cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but avoiding it has a significant role in reversing a fatty liver.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is almost always in those who are overweight and obese, since soda and juice are high-calorie, high-fructose drinks they can easily cause weight gain, so avoiding these is most important.

Think about yourself and those close to you, consider the symptoms and risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease because it is very common in our population but not commonly discussed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Alcohol can harm multiple organs not just liver

Some of the ways alcohol affects our health are well known, but others may surprise you. Here are six less-known effects that alcohol has on your body:

1. Drinking gives your body work to do that keeps it from other processes. Once you take a drink, your body makes metabolizing it a priority — above processing anything else. Unlike proteins, carbohydrates and fats, your body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol, so it has to move to the front of the metabolizing line. This is why it affects your liver, as it’s your liver’s job to detoxify and remove alcohol from your blood.

2.Abusing alcohol causes bacteria to grow in your gut, which can eventually migrate through the intestinal wall and into the liver, leading to liver damage.

3.Too much is bad for your heart. It can cause the heart to become weak (cardiomyopathy) and have an irregular beat pattern (arrhythmias). It also puts people at higher risk for developing high blood pressure.

4.People can develop pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, from alcohol abuse.

5.Drinking too much puts you at risk for some cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.

6.It can affect your immune system. If you drink every day, or almost every day, you might notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink. This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections.

Your liver heads up alcohol breakdown process

When you drink, here’s what happens in your liver, where alcohol metabolism takes place.

Your liver detoxifies and removes alcohol from the blood through a process known as oxidation. Once the liver finishes the process, alcohol becomes water and carbon dioxide. If alcohol accumulates in the system, it can destroy cells and, eventually, organs. Oxidative metabolism prevents this.

But when you’ve ingested too much alcohol for your liver to process in a timely manner, the toxic substance begins to take its toll on your body, starting with your liver. The oxidative metabolism of alcohol generates molecules that inhibit fat oxidation in the liver and, subsequently, can lead to a condition known as fatty liver.

Fatty liver, early stage alcoholic liver disease, develops in about 90 percent of people who drink more than one and a half to two ounces of alcohol per day. So, if you drink that much or more on most days of the week, you probably have fatty liver. Continued alcohol use leads to liver fibrosis and, finally, cirrhosis.

The good news is that fatty liver is usually completely reversible in about four to six weeks if you completely abstain from drinking alcohol. Cirrhosis, on the other hand, is likely to lead to liver failure despite abstinence from alcohol.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

After polio, Amitabh Bachchan to lead India’s fight against hepatitis B

Taking a cue from the success of pulse polio campaign, Indian government has again roped in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for its campaign against hepatitis B, a critical public health problem facing India.

According to latest World Health Organization (WHO) data, hepatitis B is responsible for 1.4 million deaths every year globally, as compared to 1.5 million deaths from HIV/AIDS and 1.2 million each from malaria and tubercluosis. India has over 40 million hepatitis B infected patients (second only to China) and constitutes about 15% of the entire pool of hepatitis B in the world. Every year, nearly 600,000 patients die from HBV infection in the Indian subcontinent.

The health ministry has finalized talks with Amitabh Bachchan and is set to launch the campaign in April, a senior official in the ministry told TOI.

Bachchan was made brand ambassador for the Polio Eradication Campaign in 2005 after polio cases peaked in India in 2002 with 1,556 cases being detected. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh accounted for the maximum number of cases.

Prevalence of hepatitis B is high in tribal areas in India. Chronic Hepatitis B infection accounts for about 30% of liver cirrhosis and 40-50% of liver cancers in India. Outbreaks of acute and fulminant hepatitis B still occur mainly due to inadequately sterilized needles and syringes.

Hepatitis B vaccine is also part of the government's ambitious child immunization programme - Mission Indradhanush against seven vaccine preventable diseases. Besides hepatitis B, Mission Indradhanush will include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis and measles.

The health ministry plans to target 5% unvaccinated children every year in a bid to accelerate immunization coverage. According to Union health minister, the government has adopted the mission mode to achieve a target of full coverage by 2020.

In the first phase of the mission, the ministry has identified 201 high focus districts in the country with nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children. Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of four states, the official said.

Immunization coverage has increased by merely 1% since 2009, when it was estimated at around 61%, government data shows. The latest data for 2013 shows vaccine coverage at 65%, whereas there are over 26 million infants across the country.

Experts say the insufficient coverage of vaccines is often due to significant discrimination in society related to gender, demography (religion, caste) and community literacy levels etc.

The government's campaign with Bachchan as ambassador and Unicef as partner will attempt to address these social issues and motivate parents to come out for immunization.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Basics of Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E

Viral hepatitis refers to infections caused by viruses that directly attack the liver. Chronic cases of viral hepatitis can lead to life-threatening liver cirrhosis (or scarring), liver failure and liver cancer.

The most common forms of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D.


Type of Viral Hepatitis
   Mode of Transmission / Prevention
Hepatitis A
  • Contaminated food and water.
  • There is a safe HAV vaccine.
Hepatitis B
  • Infected blood, sex, and needles.
  • From an infected mother to her newborn.
  • There is a safe HBV vaccine.
Hepatitis C
  • Infected blood and needles.
  • There is no vaccine.
Hepatitis D
  • Must already have hepatitis B.
  • Infected blood, sex, and needles.
  • From an infected mother to her newborn.
  • Get the hepatitis B vaccine.
Hepatitis E
  • Contaminated water.
  • There is no vaccine.